AMES — It’s not often two teams that aren’t in the same conference play each other twice in a season.
Iowa State (5-3) hosts No. 16 Seton Hall (6-2) as a part of the Big East/Big 12 Battle at 8 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2) in a rematch of the Battle 4 Atlantis fifth-place game.
The Cyclones lost the first game, 84-76 on Nov. 29.
“We competed really hard and played really well in the Battle 4 Atlantis but we came up short,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said. “Now that we’re home, we have to take care of business.”
One of the keys for Iowa State to flip the result will be sophomore guard Rasir Bolton. Seton Hall’s defense forces teams to play 1-on-1 because they’re always in the passing lanes and pressuring the ball.
Bolton is Iowa State’s best 1-on-1 player.
“He was great. Against Seton Hall he was really able to put pressure on the rim,” Prohm said. “I met with him and told him that we need him playing north and south and downhill. He can’t be going east and west. He can really put pressure on the rim. We just need to challenge him to be more aggressive. Told him his aggressiveness is a good thing and that I see another level for him.”
Bolton finished with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting inside the arc and added five free-throw makes on six attempts in Iowa State’s first matchup with the Pirates.
All season long the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Bolton has demonstrated the ability to absorb contact at the rim and still finish.
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“I definitely feel like I’ve improved with my body getting stronger and more physical,” Bolton said. “I’ve learned the physicality of the college game from my first year to this year.”
Against Seton Hall, Prohm used a four-guard lineup for an extended period of time for the first time this season. He liked the results it produced for his offense.
The problem is, in years past when Iowa State has used the four-guard lineup, the Cyclones have had players like Deonte Burton, Abdel Nader and Talen Horton-Tucker to guard the opposing team’s power forwards. All three are in the NBA and all of them are 6-foot-4 or taller and 220 pounds or heavier.
Against Seton Hall, Prohm had Bolton guard Seton Hall’s power forward.
Prohm doesn’t have a big-bodied guard. Tyrese Haliburton is 6-foot-5 but he’s only 175-pounds soaking wet.
“Offensively, we only had five bad possessions in the second half. We just didn’t stop them — we didn’t guard them,” Prohm said. “We gave up layups, open 3s and we didn’t rebound. We have to clean that up and shore that up.”
If Iowa State is able to figure out how to play Seton Hall using two bigs or it’s able to figure out how to defend with four guards, the Cyclones will be in good shape.
“I loved that we went down to the Bahamas,” Prohm said. “Yeah, I would’ve loved to go 2-1. There’s a big difference between 2-1 and 1-2, but in the long term there’s not if we learn from what we did down there.
“If we learned, we can really exceed a lot of people’s expectations.”